A weekly Tuesday look at those playing well for the Pittsburgh Penguins and those that "need to get back to their game" as Dan Bylsma so likes to say. We'll also throw in a look at the next week's opponents and a key to watch for. It's obviously only three games into the season, so we'll keep that in mind as we venture in..
Mark Letestu: Letestu has been the team's most productive forward through three games. He's shown why he's earned the trust and respect of the coaching staff in games. Letestu does the right things, makes the right plays and goes to the right places. Added bonus: Letestu's winning 55.3% of his faceoffs so far and seeing an increased role in taking important draws.
Alex Goligoski: Fast starts are nothing new for Goose -- 3 points (2g +1a) in 3 games this year, 13 points (6g +7a) in 15 games last season. Now let's see if he can keep it up. With injuries to Brooks Orpik and Zbynek Michalek, Goligoski's leading the team in ice time after three games. Not bad for the guy who came into the season as the clear #5 on the depth chart.
More for you, after the jump..
Trending Up (cont.)
Paul Martin: The smooth skating defenseman has been as advertised. He can skate the puck, pass the puck and shoot the puck with an impressive amount of precision and has fit right into the Penguins. Plus his grudge game against his former employer in New Jersey was pretty sweet.
Pascal Dupuis: Growing a mustache for losing the shootout competition. Pointless in three games, having only 1 shot on the goal on top of that. Bumped off Crosby's line. Only playing 13:25 a night so far. Hasn't been a good start for the season for Dupuis.
Marc-Andre Fleury: Really weak goal against Montreal on the game-winner, which cost the Penguins that game. It's way early but his save percentage is below .900 and his goals against is above 3.00. Both of that has to (and will) improve.
Power play: Without coach Mike Yeo and Sergei Gonchar, the Pens new power play has stumbled out of the gates to a 2 for 17 (11.8%) start. Neither of those goals were scored by the top unit. Even worse, an ill-advised drop pass by Kris Letang cost a goal against.
The road ahead:
Wed Oct 13- Toronto
Fri Oct 15- NYI
Sat Oct 16- at Philadelphia
Mon Oct 18- Ottawa
Dan Bylsma gave the team today (Tuesday) off and that seems wise, since it will be a busy week for the Pens. Starting tomorrow, it's three games in four days against teams who are off to a combined 5-0-1 record. Toronto and the Islanders, though not playoff teams last year, always seem to dig deep and give the Penguins really tough challenges. Games in Philadelphia are always intense and though Ottawa has been struggling, you know they'll be looking to come back to Pittsburgh and get some measure of revenge for being bounced in the playoffs last spring.
What to watch for:
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have a meager stat line: in three games just 1 goal for Geno and only 1 assist for Sid (which came on the same play). Both are playing well, getting shots on goal and creating chances -- the puck just isn't going in right now.
Traditionally both have feasted on the upcoming opponents, so this next week watch for them to get back to their scoring averages. Sizable limb to go out on, I know, but Malkin and Crosby may just start putting points on the board here soon.